Karina Grigorian playing soccer for the ParaMatildas

Kickstarting Dreams: Karina’s Path to ParaMatildas with CPA

Karina Grigorian, a vibrant 19-year-old ParaMatilda living with CP, has always had a deep-rooted love for football. Growing up in a family where it was the one and only sport, she found herself drawn to the camaraderie and passion that football brought.

“My family is heavily involved in football, so it was natural for me to gravitate towards it,” Karina explained.

“The first real interaction I had with football was at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) football camp more than 10 years ago, run by Sports Development manager, Peter King. He’s an amazing person. It was how I developed an interest in playing football.”

For Karina, football isn’t just about the game itself; it’s about the culture and sense of community that surrounds it.

“You see people in the stands going crazy for their country or their club team. I also think that seeing the happiness that my family got from playing football made me want to get into it,” she said.

Karina’s journey with CPA began early on, with therapy sessions aimed at building strength and mobility.

“I remember going to the old Spastic Centre site at Allambie Heights and doing exercise therapy and physio, just trying to build my strength,” Karina said.

On one such visit, her mum spotted an ad for a football camp and signed Karina up immediately. It was a crucial step on her path to dedicating herself to football and eventually representing Australia as a ParaMatilda.

Karina Grigorian celebrating after playing soccer for the ParaMatildas
Karina Grigorian playing soccer for the ParaMatildas

Main image and above: Karina representing Australia. (Football Australia)

Reflecting on the role of CPA staff in her journey, Karina said, “I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be here without them.”

As her passion for football grew, so did her involvement with CPA.

“The sports department at CPA offered one-on-one coaching, which really helped my development as a footballer,” she said.

CPA Sports Development Manager, Peter King said “It has been a pleasure to watch Karina grow both as a football player and as a well-rounded and talented young woman over the last ten years.”

She has worked diligently on all aspects of her game, and I see her as a leader who inspires and motivates others. When she tackles you on the field, you know it!”

She is now aiming to continue her remarkable progression by representing the ParaMatildas on the global stage.

“We have the World Cup in Spain coming up in November. Until then, I want to stand out in training camps so that I can be selected,” she said.

Balancing her football career with full-time university studies and part-time work, doesn’t leave Karina with a lot of spare time. But despite her busy schedule she still finds time to volunteer at CPA, particularly the football camps that made her fall in love with the beautiful game.

As well as retrieving balls and helping drill budding superstars on the pitch, Karina serves as a role model for young children with cerebral palsy who aspire to play football.

“I love seeing the joy in kids’ faces and want to make their dream of playing football a reality for them,” she said.

Her message to children with disabilities who dream of playing sports is one of resilience and determination.

“Never lose sight of what you want to do,” she said.

“There will always be negative people telling you what you can’t do, but never give up. There is always a way to get to where you want to be,” Karina said.

Want to get into sports? Sign up for CPA Sports Programs.